Judging from the most recent season finale (and this brilliant mockumentary), The Magicians is about due for a name change. Unfortunately, The Civilians just doesn’t have the same ring to it. The hit SYFY show left off with our faves in peril – many of them living civilian lives, totally unaware of magic and their true identities, and the rest in serious trouble (or even possessed). We’re not sure how long these tragic circumstances will last, but for now they have effectively rebooted the show – meaning that we had to get really creative in order to get some answers when we spoke to the cast at San Diego Comic-Con.
We had the chance to sit down with stars Jason Ralph (Quentin Coldwater), Stella Maeve (Julia Wicker), Olivia Taylor Dudley (Alice Quinn), Hale Appleman (Eliot Waugh), and Summer Bishil (Margo Hanson) to talk about what’s coming up for their characters (sort of) and all things Season 4.
Let’s start off with Alice, one of the only characters who still has her identity intact – not that she’s exactly living the dream right now either. Olivia Taylor Dudley shared that Season 4 picks up right where we left off, with Alice in her own kind of peril. “I’m the only one who is still the same character,” she said. “The other characters don’t know that they’re somebody else right now, so Alice kind of has an advantage – but also a disadvantage, because she’s in jail.”
It remains to be seen how Alice will escape her current predicament in the library, but at this point she may be her friends’ only hope. After betraying them last season though, she has some ground to cover. “I think [Alice] has been on her own redemption story this year,” Olivia said. “I don’t know where the whole season is going, but right now it feels like a redemption arc. Trying to help her friends and help herself. It’s a different Alice than we saw last year […] I feel very much like I’m playing a little bit more of Alice from Season 1, who I miss. Kind of beaten down and starting over.”
While Alice tries to find a way out of jail, most of her friends are living in blissful ignorance of the fact that magic exists at all – with new names and totally normal lives. When we spoke to the cast, they were about a month into filming for Season 4, and none of them seemed to have spent any time playing their original characters at all – so it looks like we should prepare to get used to the civilian life.
“Quentin doesn’t exist this season, really,” Jason Ralph said. “We start with a guy named Brian. He has a different outlook on the world. Quentin was always waiting for the sky to fall on him, and I think Brian has a rosier view of the world. His character’s been thrust into the hands of a murderous, psychopathic child beast thing and is getting a crash course in the idea that magic exists.”
Jason shared that while the core characteristics of Quentin and Brian are essentially the same, fans can expect to see a different side of the character they’ve come to know and love. “It’s the same spirit, but I think the way [Brian] responds to stimulus is very different,” he said. “We’re doing sort of a hard reboot in that we get to see these people experience magic all over again, and it’s cool to do it in a brand new way.”
Summer Bishil, on the other hand, sees her new identity – Janet – as fairly close to Margo, though not nearly as fearless. “There’s a huge, enormous part of her identity that has been extricated against her will, but who she is and how she sees the world and her observations from her lens and her eyes are still the same,” Bishil said. “She doesn’t remember anything about her life as a magician, but it’s safe to assume she had an identity constructed before magic, so there are a lot of similarities.”
As for Julia? Now that she has now given up her goddess powers and is also living under a rebooted identity, it sounds as though we will see other peeks into what her live might have been like in various alternate timelines. Stella Maeve teased, “You get to see a lot of Julia with Dean Fogg and in the linear timelines of what her life would have been like had she gone the route of Brakebills and not this storyline, which is kind of interesting. […] [It’s just little snippets, but] you get enveloped in these other worlds, which is nice.”
And then there’s Eliot. Our sassy, sardonic fave has been possessed by the monster from the castle, which still doesn’t have a name. And from the sound of things, he’s not going away any time soon.
“It feels good [playing evil],” Hale Appleman said of this vicious twist. “It’s fun for me because I’ve been playing the same character for three years and I get the opportunity to shake up expectations of what people might think I’m going to deliver. I think people will be surprised – hopefully in a good way. I hope you love this monster just as much as I do.”
As much as we’re looking forward to seeing this new side of Appleman’s performance, we’re also a little worried about how deep the whole thing is going. “I’m sort of starting to forget about Eliot completely,” Hale said. “I’m a little concerned because we’re four episodes in and I haven’t seen Eliot […] He hasn’t been around. He’s not gonna be there for a while – or at all, as far as I know.” Um… HELP.
Though Hale couldn’t tease too much about what to expect from Eliot’s new identity, he did share that he took some inspiration from a bygone era in crafting his performance as the monster in Eliot’s body. “There’s been a little bit of an Old Hollywood suspense thriller influence from me = which you might not even see in the character, but it’s there for me,” he said.
Watch our full interviews with Jason Ralph, Stella Maeve, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Hale Appleman, and Summer Bishil from SDCC below:
The Magicians Season 4 premieres in 2019 on SYFY.